Cracow (also spelled Krakow) has grown up around the site of a Stone Age settlement on Wawel Hill. The first written record of the city dates back to 965, when it was described as a busy trading centre. It grew quickly, becoming one of the most important cities in Poland.
Cracow also developed into a center for academic and artistic excellence, emphasising the importance of cultural and educational pursuits through the establishment of universities and other cultural centres.
During World War II, the invading Nazi military established Cracow as one of the key centers of Nazi Government outside Germany. Cracow was divided, and the Cracow Ghetto was established for the city's Jewish residents. The ghetto was eventually liquidated, and the residents were sent to extermination camps.